Mumbai: Hosts India must clinch the forthcoming three-match T20 International (T20I) series against Sri Lanka starting in Pune on Wednesday to hold on to their No.1 position in International Cricket Council (ICC) T20I rankings. India, who vaulted seven places to first after sweeping aside Australia last week, need to win the series against Lanka to retain the coveted position. Lanka will also aim to win the series. If they win it 2-1 they will gain the top spot and India will slip to the third position. But in case Sri Lanka win the series 3-0, the islanders will dislodge India from the top position and Mahendra Singh Dhoni's side to drop to seventh spot. If India win the series 3-0, the hosts will maintain their top spot while Sri Lanka will drop to the seventh position. If India win the series 2-1 they will maintain their top spot but Sri Lanka will climb to the fourth spot. With the World Twenty20 starting in less than four weeks, this series is extremely crucial for both sides. Both the sub-continental teams will not only aim to find the winning combination and momentum, but also target entering the tournament as the number one ranked side, which will serve as an additional confidence booster. India rested their star batsman Virat Kohli ahead of the Asia Cup and World T20.
Following this series, India and Sri Lanka will feature in the Asia Cup Twenty20 tournament in Bangladesh before launching their World T20 campaigns. Sri Lanka will defend the title they won in Bangladesh in 2014 in the tournament to be staged from March 8 to April 3. Suresh Raina will start as the highest-ranked batsman in the 13th position. Other batsmen featuring inside the top 20 include Tillakaratne Dilshan (14th), Rohit Sharma (17th) and Yuvraj Singh (20th). Among bowlers, India’s off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin will start in second place, 81 points behind number one ranked Sunil Narine of the West Indies. In the all-rounders’ list, Yuvraj will enter the series in seventh position, 15 points behind fifth-ranked Mathews, who has been rested. Australia’s Shane Watson is ranked number one, 89 points ahead of Yuvraj.